It’s Chinese Valentine’s Day or Qīxì 七夕 and we all know what that means: flowers, chocolates, and major brands trying to cash in on this highly popular holiday by putting out some lovey-dovey commercials. But this year, American beer company Budweiser has boldly refreshed the annual corporate tradition by featuring same-sex couples in its marketing messages and packaging.
With the theme “All Love Is Love,” Budweiser launched seasonal beer bottle designs featuring illustrations of men and women who can be paired so it looks like they are kissing each other. On the Chinese internet, some customers matched bottles with people of the same sex together as a way to make sure the LGBTQ community in China also felt included in this typically heteronormative holiday.
Judging from other marketing materials released by Budweiser, this is exactly what the ad campaign intended to achieve. In a string of promotional images shared by Budweiser on Weibo, same-sex couples can be seen leaning toward each other with the special bottles covering part of their faces.
Speaking to (in Chinese) the Gay Voice (同志之声 tóngzhì zhī shēng), a popular Weibo account dedicated to LGBTQ-related news with more than 1.5 million followers, Guō Wǎnpíng 郭琬苹, a PR director at Budweiser, said that embracing different cultures and communities is at the core of the brand’s identity. “We are delighted to take advantage of this holiday to encourage people to celebrate their true love and be true to themselves,” Guo said.
The reaction online was overwhelmingly positive with Weibo users remarking on how refreshing and encouraging it is to see ad campaigns featuring same-sex couples in this time of year. “OMG this is so cool,” one Weibo user commented (in Chinese).